This I Believe

Jenny - San Diego, California
Entered on December 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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“We Will Never Be As Young As We Are Tonight”

My most life altering experience happened when I was 18. I was in the home stretch of my senior year of high school, my friends and I getting excited for prom and graduation, the majority of us finally receiving our college acceptance letters in the mail, eager to get out of our small town of Elk Grove, CA and experience the world.

Then one day, our world changed. We changed.

On Friday March 4th, 2005, on what started out as a normal day, congregating at our usual before school spot by the lockers, talking about life, senioritis, the rally later that day, and our weekend plans. The bell rang, everyone said their temporary good-byes with words and hugs then scattered off to class. By the time 5th period lunch rolled around, we learned that one or our friends, Chris, had collapsed while playing basketball in the gym and was rushed to the hospital. We all assumed he’d re-injured his knee, but soon learned that our good friend, the most selfless person you’d ever meet, star athlete, honors student, amazing singer, all around role-model was pronounced dead due to an enlarged heart. How fitting.

None of us know what hit us.

We spent the whole next week leading up to the funeral at Willie’s house, our headquarters of sorts. While his mom made us mounds of food that no one really had the appetite for, we were keeping busy making T-shirts, stickers, raising money, and remembering Chris. We swapped stories and looked at hundreds of photographs, laughed and cried. In the midst of all the chaos, we realized how close we all were and how many good and bad times we’d been had together. That week and that experience will always be with me.

Almost three years later, we’re all in different cities at different colleges, and although we’ve grown apart, when we go back home to our small town of Elk Grove, we hang out like old times, because we all shared those moments of mourning, happiness, and true friendship. I believe in the philosophy of never forgetting where you came from and always remembering where you’re going. However, I think it’s more important to never forget those people who were once a part of your life and helped make you who you are today. They say that when someone you love dies, it feels as if a little part of you dies with them. However, after Chris passed, I think we all kept him in our hearts, and gained much more than we had lost.